Paper-to-Digital Dilemma: Communications to Move, Channels to Prioritize

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Every organization is participating in the paper-to-digital transformation whether they realize it or not. Some have specific initiatives and projects underway to reduce paper and create and/or deliver more digital content. Others may not be able to identify budget line items or named projects, but the gradual digitization of the business is embedded throughout many projects across the enterprise.

At the same time, many organizations are undertaking comprehensive reviews of how their customers actually experience the company, including initiatives to understand the complete customer journey from acquisition through retention.

Customer experience initiatives reveal new demands from customers, partners and other third parties (e.g., agents) related to communications, with increasing expectations that organizations will offer interactions based on digital content exchanged through digital channels.

With so many types of documents and communications, the range of potential channels, the variety of products, and customers in different locations, how do you prioritize all of the efforts needed to create and deliver the deluge of digital content? The following three steps may help.

Step One: Identify Which Types of Digital Communications Are Prohibited by Regulations

One approach is to first identify the types of digital communications that regulations prohibit. Today, most documents and communications can be conducted electronically with customers.

However, there are still exceptions by state or province, product and type of document or communication. It’s better to understand what’s possible before getting too far down the road in planning for a specific e-delivery project.

Step Two: Determine Which Types of Communications Customers Really Want

Another early step in the process should be to determine what kinds of content customers really want to receive through electronic means, and what delivery methods they prefer.

It’s never possible to have a perfect view of this, and sometimes customers themselves don’t even know which options they want to leverage. However, there are far too many initiatives that lead to investments based on assumptions or anecdotes.

For example, an insurer may assume that customers want their policies as a PDF available through a secure web link, only to discover that the take-up is very low when the service is offered. Therefore, it’s usually worth the investment of time and money to ask customers what they want.

Customer-facing representatives should also have an important voice in the planning from two perspectives. First, they talk to customers almost every day and have a good pulse on requirements and desires. Secondly, customer-facing representatives often play an intermediary role in communications, adding personalization before the final communication is delivered to the customer.

This is at least true for organizations that utilize Customer Communications Management (CCM) platforms that enable the creation and delivery of ad hoc communications.

Step Three: Assess the Effort and Funding for Creating and Delivering Communications

The final step in this evaluation is to assess the effort and funding required for creating and delivering certain documents and communications electronically to certain channels and devices.

For example, perhaps an organization is contemplating sending an acknowledgement letter via mobile app to a tablet device, emailing the letter or providing a link to a web portal. The tablet option may be the “coolest” and most advanced option, but it might also be the most expensive.

In addition, regulations may prohibit this option, or few customers really prefer it. An emailed PDF is preferred since many will want to print or store the letter in an archive.

These steps will allow sensible trade-offs to be made in prioritizing plans to convert more traditional print communications to digital and deliver them through specific channels.

A full treatment of this topic is much more involved, and suffice it to say, spreadsheets will probably be involved in mapping out the best combinations of communications to transition and deliver through digital channels. It also goes without saying that the ultimate priorities and plans will be unique for every organization.


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